Sure, we’re all tired of this mask-up, mask-off; it is save; no it is not safe! Business leaders, driven largely by self-interest and business profits, now see the best way to ensure that their employees – and in some cases their customers – are vaccinated.

Exactly a year ago, as cases were rising in Georgia, I spoke to Harry Heiman, a professor in the Georgia State University School of Public Health. We talked about mask requirements and where the science is going on this new virus.

“As of August 2021, we now know that people should be vaccinated,” he said this week. “Compulsory vaccination for employees is an important tool. (Business leaders) recognize that we must take responsibility for what we are responsible for. “

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Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are on a tray as they are due to be administered to health care workers on January 7, 2021 in Doraville at the DeKalb County’s COVID-19 BrandsMart USA drive-through testing site. (Curtis Compton / The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

He noted that there had been a debate over the past year about which course should take precedence. At the time, public health measures were at odds with measures to open up the economy. It was the dilemma Governor Brian Kemp faced when he moved to open barbershops and nail salons and then got heat from President Donald Trump – who it turned out was just warming up against his Georgia ex-buddy.

“Well,” says Heiman, “the economy and public health are inextricably linked. It wasn’t either / or, it was both. “

He noted that there is a fraction of the unvaccinated population (more than 47% of Georgians have had at least one vaccination) who say they won’t get it until told to do so. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about a quarter of those who were not vaccinated would do so if forced to do so.

It’s a bit like seat belts. Decades ago everyone knew they were safe, but hardly anyone used them. Then cops started handing out tickets and almost everyone is now buckling up.

The list of companies that have told some or all of their employees that vaccination is a “condition of employment” is growing every day: Walmart, Tyson Foods, Google, Microsoft, United Airlines, The Walt Disney Co.

In Georgia, Emory Healthcare, Invesco, and even Cox Enterprises, who write my paychecks, require workers who come into company headquarters to be vaccinated.

I called Jon Chally, an Atlanta commercial litigation attorney, who said he had “been advising clients on how to manage the pandemic.”

The reason for the increasing number of vaccination orders is simple, he said: “Companies have a real desire to be safe for their employees and customers. And they want to move too. There was some frustration: ‘What do we have to do to get over this?’ The science is so far that the vaccine is what we need to get over it. “

I asked if big companies will be the ones paving the way for smaller companies. No, it will be on a case-by-case basis, he said. Large companies have to make decisions in all sorts of locations with different customers and mindsets.

Maddie Nichols, 8, sits in the car while her mother Blythe Nichols (not pictured) decorates it with signs before participating in a drive-by protest against Governor Brian Kemp's decision to open some business in Georgia on April 24, 2020 to reopen.  (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)Caption

Maddie Nichols, 8, sits in the car while her mother Blythe Nichols (not pictured) decorates it with signs before participating in a drive-by protest against Governor Brian Kemp’s decision to open some business in Georgia on April 24, 2020 to reopen. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

“The simple answer is that it will do more, but science will move it forward,” Chally said. “I suppose there is security in numbers. But in the business world, it’s more like the best for our employees and customers, and ultimately for the business. “

Well, that doesn’t mean all of this is done without pushback. First, the Anti-Vax crowd is full of their throats, often verging on rabies, and being quick to tell politicians – or anyone else on social media – what’s oozing in their noodles. And politicians are by nature a reactive bunch.

State Senator Brandon Beach, an aspiring Republican from Alpharetta, announced this week that he was filing a bill banning the use of a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, business admission, or public schooling.

“It shouldn’t be a government or corporation’s job to mandate their employees or customers to get a COVID-19 vaccine or provide evidence of vaccination to get a service,” said Beach, who has always been a great professional was -bidness type. He directed the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce and now heads the North Fulton Community Improvement District (CID). He’s also jumped on the Stop The Steal bandwagon in a big way.

Now companies hate being in the middle of a political battle. They prefer to just focus on business. And when the job market is tight, companies can get squeamish about annoying those who remain decidedly unvaccinated. They can stop and they need to be replaced.

Florida lawmakers and ambitious state governor Ron DeSantis have passed a law vaguely similar to Beach’s that bans companies from proving a COVID-19 vaccination. It’s a matter of “personal choice,” they say – you know, the choice for citizens to contract a deadly disease if they want and then let it mutate.

But a federal judge ruled this week in favor of a cruise line that wanted its crew and passengers to provide proof of vaccination. Cruise ships have always been known as “floating petri dishes” and COVID has decimated that business. This is an attempt to straighten the ship.

Norwegian Cruise Line argued that DeSantis & Co.’s booth was an “abnormal, misguided intervention that threatens to spoil (the) careful planning (of the company) and force it to cancel or hinder upcoming cruises, thereby reducing the experience of the Passengers are endangered and impaired “irreparable damage of enormous proportions.”

Republicans have long argued that the government should avoid business. In this case, the judge said the government cannot get in the way of a company that is trying to protect its people.

I know, I know, some people argue that these vaccination regulations are kind of civil rights cases and are discriminatory. But my law degree from Google says that unvaccinated, febrile people are not a protected class.

We’re sure to see more of these sidelines in front of the judges as the nation tries to find a way forward.